The Florida Gators will attempt to redeem their College World Series opening game loss against Texas Tech when they face the Red Raiders for a second time Thursday night. However, this time it’s win or go home. Florida is looking to extend their streak of six straight wins in elimination games to seven. Head coach Kevin O’Sullivan will be counting on freshman RHP Jack Leftwich to deliver a solid start.
— Gators Baseball (@GatorsBB) June 21, 2018
O’Sullivan has stated all season long that the team would need a couple of freshmen to step up and pitch critical innings. Leftwich has staked his claim on the third spot in the Gator rotation. He most recently stepped up in super regionals against Auburn. In that start, he pitched five innings and surrendered just one run on four hits. If the Gators are to stave off elimination once more, they’ll need a similar performance.
Leftwich likely isn’t the only young arm that will have to deliver Thursday night. Unless he has a career outing, Florida will probably also throw fellow freshman RHP Tommy Mace (5-0, 4.45 ERA). O’Sullivan thinks the freshmen duo is more than capable of delivering on the this stage and said they’ve both grown up throughout the course of the year.
“He’s [Leftwich] not really a freshman. I tell all of them the same thing: They’ve been through the SEC; been through a regional, super regional. Both Jack and Tommy pitched outstanding against Auburn… Held them to a couple of runs over seven. So Jack’s certainly capable. He has a live arm. Him and Tommy [Mace] are next in line.” -Kevin O’Sullivan
Scouting Texas Tech
After losing to Arkansas Wednesday night by a score of 7-4, Texas Tech head coach Tim Tadlock said his team will put the loss behind them, regroup and be ready to go for Florida.
“The neat thing is nobody’s picking us to beat Florida or Arkansas,” he said. “We’re going to show up tomorrow [Thursday] and try to earn that right.”
Sophomore RHP Caleb Kilian (9-2, 3.04 ERA) will get the start for the Red Raiders. His record and ERA are impressive, but he struggled in his last outing. Against Duke on June 10, he gave up six runs on eight hits over four innings of work.
Offensively in the College World Series, junior Cody Farhat and freshman Gabe Holt have led the way. They’re hitting 6-for-17 with 5 of the team’s 10 RBI.
Gators to Watch
For Florida, the offensive impact players have been SEC Player of the Year Jonathan India and Nelson Maldonado. Collectively, they’ve gone 7-for-17 with seven RBI and two home runs.
Jonah Girand and JJ Schwarz, who returned to the lineup Sunday after being out for a month with a hand injury, have been struggling at the plate through two College World Series games. Schwarz is 1-for-9 with three strikeouts and Girand is 0-for-6 with five strikeouts.
You can listen to the game on ESPN 98.1 FM/850 AM WRUF beginning at 7:50 p.m. ET. It will also be televised on ESPNU.
Don't forget to turn down your tv and turn up the smooth sounds of @JeffCardozoUF & @SteveRussell850 as they have the call from Omaha tonight starting at 7:50 as the @GatorsBB takes on @TexasTech If you have an Amazon Echo ask Alexa to enable the WRUF skills! #CWS18 pic.twitter.com/9ZAKqizJss
— ESPN 98.1/ 850 WRUF (@ESPNGainesville) June 21, 2018
The winner of Thursday night’s Florida-Texas Tech matchup moves on to face Arkansas on Friday night at 8 p.m. ET.